It’s been 20 years now since I was first “infected” with the home theater bug. I started with a VHS video recorder and a Trinitron 4:3 tube TV, and over the years I gradually expanded and improved my equipment fleet. After a high-quality living room theater (at least by the standards of the time), with a 720p projector, DVD player and 5.1 loudspeaker setup, I built my first basement theater in a rental house: 16 square meters, projector and a large off-the-shelf 5.1 setup.
After a short (home theater) break while I was working abroad, I came back and had the opportunity to buy a place where I could build my own 20 square-meter basement theater.
That is where I started designing and building my own subwoofers, and the results were truly impressive. It is not for nothing that I dubbed my theater the “Bass Attack.”
That was my gateway drug into the world of DIY, where I especially appreciate the price/performance ratio and where you can also be proud of your own work in the end. Having gotten my first fix, I then went on the hunt for new main loudspeakers, since I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my expensive off-the-shelf speakers.
My goal was to find the same, or at least equivalent, direct sound transducers that offered decent but low-distortion volume and still had a finely honed musical sensibility. Because of the large number of speakers, they also couldn’t be too big, 30 liters at a maximum. Because I still wanted good volume, though, I would want to separate the loudspeakers at 80 Hz at the most, since I had plenty of subwoofer power. Oh, and the cabinets couldn’t be more than 20 cm deep, and they needed to be affordable. An all-in-one miracle product? I really did find it here at LoudSpeakerBuilding.com (lautsprecherbau.de).
My tour of southern Germany
Now, I was aware that seven loudspeakers would involve a certain financial investment, along with a good deal of (assembly) time for me as a professional and a family man. That’s why I wanted to be completely sure I had found the right loudspeakers, and the bar was already pretty high thanks to my existing ready-made set. After explaining the situation here in the forum and having some theoretical discussions about it, I made the all-important personal visits to a few community members. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart here – the visits were great, and I met some interesting and (wonderfully) crazy people.
At the end of my Bavarian tour, given all of the impressions I had gathered and my original specifications, I was just about ready to build myself something from the SB240/SB36/SB18 line. In fact, I had already bought the first set of SB18s.
But after all those visits, I still had to sort through my impressions. To help describe my impressions of the “listening” tour, I called my dear forum colleague “Hesse.” I explained my specifications to him again, and he suggested that I call Intertechnik and talk to Daniel, who had just developed a new loudspeaker: the Satorique 1..
It was direct, fast and uncomplicated to get in touch with Daniel. After a lengthy phone call, he made me the unheard-of offer to try out the loudspeakers at home.
I couldn’t say no to that, so we tested various loudspeakers at my friend “Kreuzi”s house during a meeting of the Munich Home Theater Club: SB18, SB417, Satorique 1, FT2TL and two other off-the-shelf speakers.
The testing room (the home theater “experience”) was a 48-square-meter theater with professional acoustic optimization. Here are a couple of pictures from the test day:
We also took measurements right away, but the main evaluation tools were our own ears. To avoid flowery speeches and not to rob others of the fun of hearing it for themselves, let me just give you my personal impression: I was very taken with the Satorique 1, and I was not the only one.
The home theater fitting – or how the Satorique MTM was born
In addition to good sound quality, we home-theater people also need quite a bit of volume headroom, so I wanted a Satorique 1 with a little more volume (regardless of whether that was even necessary in my small space, but sometimes you just want to have specific things). My request was fulfilled with an amazingly simple but ingenious solution: the Satorique 1 was given a second bass-mid-range chassis – and the Satorique MTM was born.
So I ordered three Satorique MTMs (as front channels) and four Satorique 1 sets as surrounds – a luxury-class theater setup.
The Intertechnik delivery looked great, and very promising right from the start:
Since I’m not really an expert woodworm, two of my friends from the Munich Home Theater Club volunteered to help me out. The four Satorique 1 cabinets were largely built by Wolfang, aka Wolfmunich (“New BlueLine Cinema” home theater). For the three Satorique MTMs, Frank, aka Kreuzi (“The Experience” home theater), made me a great assembly kit with dowels, so all I had to do was glue them together::
I put the bass reflex tube on top so it wouldn’t interfere with the sound too much, and so there would be plenty of breathing room at the top behind the screen.
I did make one beginner’s mistake in the design, though: my buddies cut the chassis precisely to a 10th of a millimeter, based on my design. But for the bass mid-range chassis, I forgot that the installation size was given with a tolerance of +-0.5 mm. Naturally, my chassis elements were +0.5 mm, so the cutout was too small, and we had to spend an entire afternoon cutting new holes.
Then it was time to solder the crossovers. I had gotten a soldering station a long time ago, but I didn’t really have any experience or practice with it. As a result, I prepared everything very slowly and carefully, and took it one step at a time. Everything worked right away in the end (except for one place where I reversed the poles ;-)), and it wasn’t as hard as I expected because I approached it with a certain amount of respect.
I made the crossover big simply because that made it easier to solder, and because I wanted to spread the air coils out as far as possible.
I also wanted to keep everything modular, so I didn’t put the crossovers into the cabinet, but instead attached them to the outside right at the end.
Please excuse my unfinished MDF boxes; theater loudspeakers are normally kept hidden, in this case behind the projector screen – which I find incredibly practical. ;-)
Final results and sound
My sound description is based on the entire setting in my home theater, in other words with the subwoofer (above 80 Hz) and 7.1 transmission. I use a Lexicon MC-12 v5 Balanced as a pre-amp. The amplification quality isn’t perfect yet, but at least it has enough juice now (Crown XLS 602).
The Satorique is simply a great experience. And now I unfortunately do have to resort to flowery language. It has fantastic resolution and great high notes, and it’s not at all grating. Great neutral mid-range, no nasality, no sounds being swallowed, nothing. Clarity, without over-emphasizing anything to achieve an effect. The Satorique MTM just does everything right. Suddenly, the loudness feature is nothing but an annoying music distorter, and I turn it off right away to enjoy the great linearity.
I fed it a wide range of multi-channel music: an Adele BluRay, “Live at the Royal Albert Hall” – the piece “Rolling in the Deep” always gives me goose bumps. The “Hit Man – David Foster and Friends” BluRay, where Michael Bublé belts out the piece “Feeling Good,” is just great. The Eagles DVD audio – Hotel California – that’s the way it’s supposed to be. “Artificial” music like the 3rd track on the “Lichtmond II” BluRay, where the singer (or rather speaker) wanders from one channel to the other, brings tears of joy to your eyes at not having skimped on the surrounds as usual, but having built out all of the Satoriques. Even harder fare like the “Black Symphony” BluRay from “Within Temptation” is a whole lot of fun..
Volume: As much as your ears can take – I didn’t take the Satorique MTM all the way to its limits.
Stereo (although still with subwoofer support, since that’s just part of my setup): from Within Temptation, it wasn’t all that far to Epica’s latest CD “The Quantum Enigma.” The loudspeaker box still represents everything correctly even when the male and female singers, choir, electric guitars, drums and large orchestra are all giving it their best at the same time. Amazing!
All a little too wild and too loud? No problem – my mellower CDs include a live version of Hugh Masekela’s piece “Stimela” (here on the Burmester Test CD Vol. 3). The live feeling is perfectly conveyed, everything nicely detailed, big stage. Then we move on to Chris Jones with “No Sanctuary Here” (found on the EASCA’s “Competition Evaluation Disc 2009”). The voice is exactly the way I have always imagined it – neither right in your face nor off in the distance. It’s just right there, freed from the box, properly represented. Two more pieces: Allan Taylor with Chris Jones, “The Tennessee Waltz”: great spatiality and once again everything is done right. Nothing is missing, and nothing is exaggerated.
But now back to my multi-channel project, the film department. Clearly understandable speech, plenty of headroom, everything just right. Even when the monster is demolishing the city in Transformers 4, the dialogue is clear and easy to understand. You can hear every detail. Or in Avatar when the tree is chopped down – you’re right there in the middle of it. The smallest details are preserved during the shootout in Open Range, but the dynamic volume of the shots is still there.
I could go on like this forever, but so far I haven’t found anything that the Satorique doesn’t do really well. I’ll donate €5 to the cliché piggybank, but let me say that I’m rediscovering my music / BluRay collection – or rather, finally discovering it properly. It’s a great feeling.
That’s all from me – big thanks from southern Germany to the people who run this magazine.